Bonnie Gray is the soulful author of Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer and meditation. Bonnie’s writing is featured on Relevant Magazine, DaySpring (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband and their two sons. Visit Bonnie at www.thebonniegray.com and connect with her @thebonniegray on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
I stood there.
The door had slammed in front of me.
It didn't matter what I said or what I did.
What mattered was that she was mad. I would have to plead and beg.
Please, Mommy. I'm sorry.
I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how long I'd have to keep standing in the hallway. How long I'd have to keep knocking on the door. To no reply.
After a while, I'd walk back to my room. And cry. I'd pull out my journal. And start to write. I'd read a book. Or do my homework.
I still remember how the air felt like a live wire. How at any time, her bedroom door would fly open. And the rain of words would start to storm again, like winter rain cascading sideways from the storm clouds, pelting your body, so that even if you wore thick jeans, they'd start to sag under the weight of water soaking through.
I could not rest.
Sometimes, I just stood there in the hallway for the longest time, breathing only oh so quietly. Or I'd sit there on the hardwood floor, in front of the gray heater. I can still see the soft indigo blue hue -- the flame of the pilot light -- flickering, hovering softly between the metal grate of the gas furnace. I'd press my toes against it. It felt so warm.
I stayed there, in limbo -- rather than run the risk of appearing unrepentant. Other times, I'd start to clean up around the house. Start to prepare dinner. Do something that would be pleasing.
Be helpful. Be good.
Don't be selfish.
Don't be stupid.
And definitely. Don't think everything is okay.
Be yourself? I don't think that thought ever crossed my mind. Until now -- now that I can't ignore my anxiety.
A Sure Sign
I've finally come to a point in my life where my body is expressing what my heart has always wanted to say.
Listen to yourself.
Listen to your heart.
Speak from your heart.
I have to learn, like a little child, what this means.
What do I want? What do I like -- and what don't I like?
What makes me feel uncomfortable? What brings me comfort?
What feels restful to me?
These might seem very simple questions to someone else.
But, these are big questions for me. And I end up thinking too much about the answers. Because that is what I've always had to do.
I over analyze. And I end up drawing a blank. Or if I get some ideas, it triggers a steady stream of shoulds, feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
Then, I get too tired to think about my answers anymore.
So, I stop being myself. It's a sure sign for me now.
Whenever I find myself thinking too much, it is a very good indication to me:
I am drawing close to something important to my heart.
Now, I recognize --
numbing my desires or negative feelings,
are actually my defense mechanisms.
To avoid being myself.
I realize I have grown comfortable and accustomed to staying in limbo -- rather than venture out and risk being myself.
How do I change this ingrained stress response?
When I see myself spiral into over-analyzing , here are the four movements I'm making to break my heart out of "limbo":
1. I stop apologizing for --
wanting to be happy,
feeling sad or tired,
for putting my heart first.
2. I give myself permission to --
tell my story and sharing my heart (even if feeling numb is what I'm sharing),
explore what I like or don't like,
feel awkward, make mistakes and change my mind while doing it.
3. I nurture and honor my body's messages, rather than resenting it for its honesty.
My body holds so many automatic responses to stress that involve isolation and over-thinking. Or doing the opposite. Producing and pleasing rather than being, going on auto-pilot with soul-draining busyness.
My body is now very sensitive to sounds, scents, and stress. I used to think this was terrible. But, I'm discovering my body is helping me stop, recognize my needs, and then to actually do something about it.
It is time to say no to "should", so I can say yes to letting God love me -- through nurturing me.
4. I feed my soul with self-care, rather than rejecting myself as selfish.
These are all new discoveries for me. Maybe not in my head, but to actually live it out in everyday life is scary, because it make s desires real.
When the apostle Paul urges us in Romans 12:1--
"In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice..."
I am reminded the life we offer is alive -- organic, growing, real.
Be At Rest
Feeding my soul.
Nurturing the quiet me.
Refreshing the artistic me.
Cultivating a smaller number of deeper, more authentic friendships.
I'm on a new journey that feels peaceful -- even if it triggers anxiety. I understand why. I'm breaking free.
And the little girl who never could break free is afraid of this new way. The closer we get to what really touches our hearts, we will feel anxious. I'm learning that is okay.
It means we are leaving the hallways of our lives. God's quiet, loving voice whispering something new and different --
You are safe.
You don't have to be in limbo.
Be at rest.
"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well."
~ Psalm 138:14
Which of the four movements -- stop apologizing, giving yourself permission, nurturing your body, or feeding your soul -- most speaks to you?
How is Jesus prompting your heart to be yourself?
Pull up a chair.Click to comment.
Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in everyday life.
Looking for some company on the faith journey? Join me as I make my way on my blog Faith Barista.
Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, serving up shots of faith in everyday life. Bonnie is founder of FaithBarista.com and featured writer for DaySpring (in)courage. Bonnie's debut book will be published by Revell in June 2014. Bonnie is a native Californian living in the heart of Silicon Valley with her best friend Hubby, wrangling their two heaven-sent boys on the homestead.
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